An Italian photographer has captured incredible photographs of some of Italy’s most beautiful crumbling homes after spending four years scouting out abandoned villas.
Eleonora Costi, from Florence, first discovered her interest in becoming an urban explorer after reading an article about Villa Napoleone, an abandoned 14th-century villa a few miles north of Milan.
Speaking to Atlas Obscura, Ms Costi said: ‘It was dark, damp, and really quiet. It’s a kind of surreal silence I have been feeling only in abandoned places. As if anyone could come out from behind a corner at any time.’
Since then she has explored more than 50 villas across northern and central Italy, using Google searches and local paper stories to find her next hidden gem.
Ms Costi’s main goal – aside from taking breathtaking photos – is to raise awareness these abandoned villas in the hopes that people will be inspired to try and restore them.
She added: ‘I know that many people find the decadence attractive, but for me what’s striking about these places is the persistence of beauty. It’s striking to see a fresco from 300 years ago still standing despite the neglect.’
Ms Costi shares the beautiful photos on her Instagram and website here.
Eleonora Costi, from Florence, has spent the past four years travelling around northern and central Italy exploring abandoned villas. This abandoned villa in Turin is nicknamed ‘the villa of the wild boar’
The photographer has visited more than a hundred villas, hospitals, schools, mental hospitals and theatres during that time. The villa got this nickname because to reach it you have to cross a forest filled with the creatures
Her interest first began after she read an article about Villa Napoleone, an abandoned 14th-century villa a few miles north of Milan (Pictured: The living room in a villa in Emilia Romagna. The statue represents the archangel Michael defeating the devil)
Ms Costi said: ‘It was dark, damp, and really quiet. It’s a kind of surreal silence I have been feeling only in abandoned places. As if anyone could come out from behind a corner at any time.’ This greenhouse and the villa below are collapsing from bad weather
After visiting one mansion Ms Costi’s photos were used in the online advert to sell it, and it has since become a family home. The villa and greenhouse are in Piedmont
Ms Costi’s main goal – aside from taking breathtaking photos – is to raise awareness these abandoned villas in the hopes that people will be inspired to try and restore them. (Pictured: Villa Equilibrium)
At the Villa Equilibrium, pictured, both the ceiling and floor have fallen through in some rooms, but the old furniture and decoration remains
Ms Costi said: ‘When you come into a place and see water infiltrations in its foundations, you know that there is very little one can do.’ Villa Equilibrium, pictured, used to belong to the owner of a textile company
A big problem with these abandoned villas is that upkeep costs are huge so many stay in states of disrepair because their owners can’t afford to fix them up again (Pictured: The abandoned cinema in a school in Tuscany)
In the case of this villa in Emilia-Romagna, the two doctors who owned it died without children and the relatives who took it over couldn’t afford the maintenance costs
In this photo, a dressing gown still hands on the cupboard, as if the owner has just stepped out for a moment (Pictured: Villa in Emilia-Romagna)
This room, filled with books, has papers scattered all over the floor and rug under the desk and wallpaper. The villa was abandoned fully furnished (Pictured: Villa in Emilia-Romagna)
An easy trick for spotting abandoned buildings for Ms Costi is using Google Earth to get a birds-eye view of buildings. She said: ‘For example, if a roof seems like it has some crumbling parts, that is usually a promising clue’ (Pictured: Villa in Emilia-Romagna)
Earthquakes and damage from persistent rainfall means that some of these properties are almost unsalvageable, but others can be restored with a lot of time and money (Pictured: Villa in Emilia-Romagna)
Here Ms Costi has captured the dilapidated elegance of a frescoed bedroom within a villa in the Marches in central Italy
This abandoned hotel in Emilia Romagna has plenty of furniture and is relatively undamaged, but is just covered in a layer of dust
She said: ‘I know that many people find the decadence attractive, but for me what’s striking about these places is the persistence of beauty. It’s striking to see a fresco from 300 years ago still standing despite the neglect.’ This villa in Lombardia lies on top of a hill inside a park with views of the entire city, and will now be opened up to the public
During her project Ms Costi also visited abandoned mental institutions. Here, a bed has been abandoned in the middle of a ward corridor (Pictured: Mental institution in Lombardia)
The mental institution pictured was abandoned after a new hospital was opened nearby (Pictured: Mental institution in Lombardia)
During one particular shoot, she ran into the owner of the villa. Speaking of the experience, she said: ‘After I complimented her house, she told me: If you like it, it’s yours!’ (Pictured: A sound-proofed room inside the house of the caretaker of a villa in Piedmont)